Saturday, June 21, 2008
Bruce Damer, a guest blogger on TerraNova suggests that we may already be seeing the early sign of a Virtual Worlds downturn that may lead to a "winter" as severe as the one in the period 2000-2003. In his column, he poses eight provocative questions including one that asks: "Are open source efforts the inevitable shape of things to come (ie, creating standardized protocol layers which would lower the cost of entry and operation of the whole VW ecosystem) or simply an expression of frustration with or fear of the long term prospects of commercial platforms?" Perhaps the question should really be: "Are open source efforts the inevitable shape of things to come (ie, creating standardized protocol layers which would lower the cost of entry and operation of the whole VW ecosystem) and an expression of frustration with or fear of the long term prospects of commercial platforms?" In that case, the answer would most certainly be yes.
Monday, June 9, 2008
John Dougan and Mark McCahill just announced the 2008-06-08 pre-alpha release of Cobalt that's downloadable here. Here's whats new in this release:
• Cobalt can now punch through the NAT firewalls.
• Cobalt now has an OpenAL null device class that will be used if the OpenAL libraries are not installed or if they have a startup problem (special thanks to Mike Klein for this code).
• Hitting the Esc key while the mouse is over the menubar no longer causes the menubar to disappear.
• A patch to make embedded applications work is now integrated into Cobalt.
• "Message not understood" no longer thrown when closing the 3D Painter tool in Cobalt.
• Cobalt's harness classes and their support are partially refactored.
• A race on quitting was removed by carefully timing the Tweak shutdown relative to the morph delete.
• Various packaging clean-ups were done.
• Minor fixes to the ASE import around some of the texture name handling code and more logging to aid in future fixes.
• New code to import a new mesh collection for the avatar (switch avatar functionality) has been updated to handle ASEs as well as the obsolete MDL format.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
I've just been awarded an NSF Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER) to advance exploratory work towards a more complete open source Croquet-based browser application and toolset that can support the large scale needs of the scientific community. With this support, we will be helping to advance the Cobalt effort by 1) making general improvements to the user interface which includes the more complete buildout of Cobalt's menus as well as improvements to basic navigational control, 2) fully implementing and testing of the ability for end-users to tag and electronically store their Cobalt-created worlds to online directories, 3) designing and implementing methods for finding and contacting other users of Croquet spaces by leveraging XMPP/Jabber as a presence registration and rendezvous mechanism, and 4) designing and implementing of methods that enable Cobalt users to browse a directory of all registered and active Cobalt spaces and to make it possible for users to contact current participants of those spaces by leveraging XMPP/Jabber and institutional IAA infrastructures as a means of defining user permissions by group affiliations. At the end of this, we hope to have a full Beta of the Cobalt application available for download to all.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Here is a video of legendary journalist Bill Moyers who this morning electrified an audience of more than 3,500 at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis as he declared the media reform movement and Net Neutrality to be the most significant citizens' movements to emerge in this new century. "The fate of the cyber commons is up for grabs here," he said. "We'll lose that fight without you because the only antidote to the power of money in Washington is the power of organized people at the netroots." Moyers asserts that what we need to know to make democracy work is compromised by dominant media institutions that are becoming more deeply embedded in the politics of our society, and whose interests are more about manufacturing profitable consumer commodities than they are about helping fulfill the social compact. Interestingly provocative and well worth the 40 min runtime.
Qwaq Inc. has recently engaged Eliot Miranda (a deeply experienced developer of Smalltalk-based VM implementations) to write a fast Croquet VM for release under the open source Croquet license. Named Cog, this VM will dynamically compile Smalltalk bytecodes to machine code and execute this machine code instead of interpreting bytecode. All of this will be transparent to the programmer and should execute pure Smalltalk code 10 to 20 times faster than the current Squeak VM used by Croquet. With planned further optimization, the new Croquet VM should significantly exceed the Smalltalk-based VisualWorks VM performance. Eliot expects to release the first fast version within a year and has set up a blog so that you can follow his progress.